"Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace"
(Citadel Press, May, 2008)
The Granny Peace Brigade, in conjunction with the Raging Grannies, Grandmothers Against the War, and Veterans for Peace, conducted a protest through the streets of midtown Manhattan on Tuesday, Aug. 26, the second day of the Democratic convention as well as Women's Equality Day. We held our demonstration to let the Democrats know that we want them to toughen up their platform concerning the war in Iraq and other peace issues.
We older women have been most disturbed lately by the diminution of concern among Americans about the continued occupation of Iraq. We share the worries about their number one priority, the economy, but unlike the public, we do not place it at the top of our list of issues we care about. This is so despite the fact that we, mostly senior citizens, suffer more than most from the rising prices and lowering means to meet them. But, we cannot, we will not, forget that America's grandchildren are still dying in Iraq at a rate of at least 3 per week, for no logical or morally valid reason. This takes precedence for us over our shrinking ability to feed ourselves adequately. We MUST put an end to this unconscionable abuse of our young people.
We made six-foot long faux knotty wood planks (made of foam mattresses cut in half) inscribed with our peace demands, which we carried from the Times Square recruiting center to the New York State Democratic Party offices nearly a mile through midtown Manhattan. Our planks are:
NO TO WAR
YES TO PEACE
CONTRACTORS OUT OF IRAQ
DON'T ATTACK IRAN
RECRUITERS OUT OF SCHOOLS
NO MORE FOREIGN BASES
grannies holding peace planks in Times Square (photo by Eva-Lee Baird)
But, first, as is our custom, we held a press conference on "our" site, the aforementioned recruitment center, practically at the crossroads of America, 42nd Street and Broadway.
This little traffic island has become historically associated with us peace grannies since October 17, 2005, when we were arrested and sent to jail following our attempt to enlist in the military to replace our military boys and girls and became an overnight international news sensation. Following that event, we've continued to hold many unique and colorful protests on what we consider our turf. We had one, for instance, in March 2007, the "Endless War Memorial," when for six days over 400 people, including a number of celebrities, read non-stop from dawn to nightfall the names of Iraqi and coalition dead in Iraq since the inception of our attack in 2003.
On March 19, 2008, the date of the beginning of the 6th year of our occupation of Iraq, we held a Knit-In and knit stump socks there for amputee veterans. We are so well associated with the Times Square site that the American Friends Service Committee recently added it as the 15th in its Places of Conscience map citing protests beginning in 1637. They explain in the map that they chose the island because of the grannies' act of nonviolent civil disobedience in 2007.
Today, our press conference featured famed civil liberties attorney, Norman Siegel, who successfully defended us at our six-day trial in Criminal Court; NYC Councilwoman Rosie Mendez's representative, Susan Kingsland; Vietnam vet member of Veterans for Peace, Chaplain Hugh Bruce; legendary actress-playwright, great-grandmother and one of the Times Square arrestees, Vinie Burrows; and songs performed by the Raging Grannies.
Norman Siegel with grannies at press conference Aug. 26 in Times Square
(photo by Eva-Lee Baird)
We then marched on the "sidewalks of New York" to our destination on Park Ave. and 31st Street, where we held another demonstration with songs and speeches and laid our planks into an arrangement that did, indeed, resemble a platform.
We grannies have been trying to end this terrible occupation of Iraq for almost five years. We've traveled abroad and to many cities to urge citizens to take more direct action. We hope that today's event was our last in that regard, but we fear that it is not. Even if the Democrats get in, it is questionable if they have the courage and principles to do what we believe so strongly is the only right thing to do -- prevent further bloodshed resulting from our misguided foreign policy.